Pokemon Go, a mobile game that has become a global phenomenon, has been released in the UK.
It was already available in the US, Australia and Germany but some UK gamers found ways around the country restriction to get early access.
The app lets players roam a map using their phone’s GPS location data and catch Pokemon to train and battle.
The game has added millions to the value of Nintendo, which part-owns the franchise.
The game uses a smartphone’s GPS location and real-world maps to track players as they move around. Players can visit Pokestops – typically landmarks or buildings – and collect free items in the game.
The main aim is to catch Pokemon, which pop up along the way. The game provides an augmented reality experience, using the smartphone’s camera to provide a live view of the world, with Pokemon superimposed.
Any creatures caught can be used in battle against other players at Pokemon gyms – also real-world landmarks.
However, some people have raised concerns about the app’s safety. The chief executive of children’s charity NSPCC urged the app’s makers to adapt the game before its UK release, warning that adults could use it to prey on children.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “It’s deeply troubling that the app’s owners have ignored many warning signals and well documented child safety concerns. It would have been better if they had taken time to reflect on these and put their young users first.”
The makers of the game – Niantic and The Pokemon Company – said in a statement: “We take player safety seriously and want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while safely playing Pokemon Go.
“We encourage all people to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends or family, especially when you’re exploring unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times, don’t drive and play, abide by local laws, and respect the locations you visit and people you meet during your exploration.”
Pokemon goes worldwide
- An American woman found a dead body while she was looking for a Pokemon in a river near her home. Police said the man had died within the last 24 hours and no foul play was suspected.
- Four people were arrested after they used the game to lure players to remote places and then rob them at gunpoint. In response, the makers of Pokemon Go have said people should “play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places” and “remember to be safe and alert at all times”.
- The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in the US is the location of a “gym” in the game, and players planted a pink “Clefairy” Pokemon called Love is Love there. The church has responded with a series of social media posts calling the Pokemon a sodomite.
- There have also been plenty of reports of people falling over and grazing or cutting themselves because they’re not paying attention to what’s in front of them while they play.